This I Believe

Kendall - Charlotte, North Carolina
Entered on September 20, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work
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This I believe Essay

When I was in the 8th grade, I won the spelling bee. Not the class spelling bee or the school spelling bee, I won the citywide spelling bee. I had been trying at the bee for years and when I’d finally made it, I thought I was the best. I’d always tried to be the best at everything I did. In class I always got A’s; I was always a good athletic student, but I needed to be the best at everything – I needed to be perfect.

I may have been doing well in school and athletics, but I strived for better. In the 4th grade I did extra credit work in class, just so that I could get an A+ in class. Whenever we had timed multiplication problems, I’d constantly practice them at home, so that I’d be the first to finish it at school. The winner won candy. My teacher stopped letting me play because she said she didn’t want my teeth to rot. In 5th grade, I did the same thing. My grades were always A’s; but once I got a B. I threw a temper tantrum and begged my teacher for another chance or some extra credit, but she never did allow me. To redeem myself, I did so well the next quarter that I ended up with an A+. At the same time, I tried out for so many contests and organizations that I won most likely to succeed that year. I tried out for the black history bowl, the spelling bee, TD (talent development), and the basketball team. I became a regular competitor in sporting events and had the fastest time in the mile run. I held my head high because I knew that I was perfect.

Things changed when I got to middle school. The truth that I wasn’t as perfect as I thought started to etch into my mind, but was welcomed with much denial. My grades were still A’s, but B’s started to come more often. Throughout my middle school life more people challenged my perfection and soon, I wasn’t the smartest kid in class anymore and was a couple of kids behind, even in the classes I took, which were honors. The kids were taller, faster, stronger, and, despite my speed; I couldn’t compare with their physical strength. Their skillfulness frustrated me because I felt that I should’ve been superior. In spite of my recent findings of imperfection, I still tried the best that I could and my grades were still outstanding.

High school was a total transformation. I came in with the attitude that I could be the best – perfect – and was shut down within the first year. My grades were dwindling; I got my first C. I wasn’t good enough for the soccer team and clubs and other organizations took up too much time that I needed for my lengthy homework. My homework wasn’t easy like it used to be and I stopped reproofing it to make sure it was all right. I felt completely lost, but still strived for perfection. The clubs that I joined and the sports that I tried flipped and flopped. I found myself oscillating from hobby to hobby to be excellent in, and was never stable. I felt like a lost traveler trying to take every route, but ended up nowhere. My yearn for perfection made me completely give up. Why try if I wouldn’t be perfect? My grades steadily declined and I stopped caring about anything.

I believe that there is no such thing as perfection. I’ve learned throughout my school years that I would face more and more difficult challenges that I wouldn’t be able to handle like I did in Elementary School. My mother always told me that you can never be perfect; humans are flawed and will always be flawed. It wasn’t until then that I realized that my dreams of perfection were merely dreams. It’s good to be a well-rounded person and try your best in everything you try, that way, you won’t have the stress of being better than anyone else. That’s what I did: instead of striving to be the best I tried to be well rounded in all my studies and hobbies. Regardless of this, my obsession with being perfect did show me I could go farther than I ever thought; the Regional Spelling Bee is the farthest I could go. But it also showed me that just because I won the Citywide Spelling Bee, didn’t mean that there wouldn’t be other, better Citywide Spelling Champions.